The way people are buying things is changing. With companies like Warby Parker, Casper, and Bonobos paving the way, consumers are jumping on the direct-to-consumer bandwagon; stores are more devoted than ever to cutting out the middleman, saving their customers big bucks on big ticket items. Rob Royer, who was an early team member at Bonobos, took the skills he learned with him as he embarked on a journey toward an untapped goldmine in direct-to-consumer markets: the furniture industry.
“I was very inspired by the experience at Bonobos for a number of reasons, ones that I’ve applied to the brand we created,” Rob said. “I thought they were building a really amazing, compelling, and innovative brand online, and I was able to witness that from the early days and see how they built a passionate consumer community around their product. And it was really about their focus in those early days on making one category a really great and elevated experience for the right consumer.”
Since around 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they’re being treated, Royer was right to invest in his made-to-order furniture company Interior Define. After interviewing and researching hundreds of factories, he found one that was committed to “offering a customized cushion feel, configuration, design, color, and style.”
Because that’s exactly what Interior Define is all about: personalization. Moving to Chicago made Royer realize what a shortage there was in unique, quality sofa and furniture designs.
“In my mind, when you were shopping for furniture for your space, it should be personalized to your style and taste. When I got out on the market, I found the experience to be really poor, whether I was shopping in one of the well-known brands in physical locations or online.”
Shortly after his website went online, he established a brick-and-mortar location in Chicago. After a bit of a rocky start, Royer took advantage of social media marketing (the two top benefits of which are increased traffic and brand recognition) and teamed with social media mogul The Everygirl to create two sofas that appealed to the feminine aesthetic.
“They have a big following so people trust their taste and the audience got excited about it,” Royer said. The Everygirl co-founder Alaina Kaczmarski and her partner, Danielle Moss, may have had no experience designing furniture themselves, but they did know what they liked — and what their followers liked; they surveyed their 500,000 average monthly visitors and came up with the sofa known as “Rose.” It became a best seller in the months after it was announced.
Behind a house and vehicle, furniture is the biggest investment the average American will make. Around 91% of consumers cite high quality and durability as vital aspects of their sofa-purchasing experience, and Royer has given them that and more.
“The plan from our perspective was to create a user experience online first that would enable shoppers to easily customize a piece,” he stated. “We are really excited about the foundation that we’ve created and the brand awareness that we’ve built.”